So, Liz Argall wanted me to post the first sketch she made of me as a friendly sea monster. You know, to show her process. And here it is in all its glory. I kind of love it.
In other news, as part of my homework for the Feminist SF novel I'm working on I'm reading A Crack in Creation: Gene Editing and the Unthinkable Power to Control Evolution by Jennifer Doudna. It's fascinating reading. Largely due to SF, genetics is a topic of interest for me. It started with cloning which was a hot topic back when I was younger. (The whole Nature vs Nurture argument is intriguing.) I could go on and on with examples of great stories told using genetics, but one of my favorites is GATTACA.
Yes, the film is very white. However, knowing what we know about the status of white supremacy within the US it's actually fitting. Because, of course any society based upon the US that would enact an eugenics program would most certainly be racist. Anyway, I love that the film brings up the implications of such work beyond that of "those with 'better' genetics would get better jobs." It confronts what medical insurance companies would do with genetic information. The scene where Vincent's parents can't even enroll him in preschool due to "insurance reasons" is very powerful. Anyway, it's these thoughts and others which were in my mind while I was going through A Crack in Creation.
All in all, the book has left me feeling more optimistic about the future than I'd assumed it would. The biggest reasons why have to do with the medical advancements that are soon to be possible. The ability to grow new organs specifically matching patients' DNA would both resolve the organ donor shortage and the risks of transplant rejection. The ability to cure horrible genetic diseases and possibly remove them entirely as a inheritable trait. In this way, CRISPR is not unlike the discovery of the vaccine. We could, through minor effort, theoretically remove the mosquitoe's ability to transmit certain blood born diseases as well. There is even discussion of killing all of them as a whole.
One thing that disturbed me, however, is that the author blithely discusses GMOs and widespread distribution of CRISPR as if these things couldn't possibly be of concern. In the case of GMOs, my main concern is: the splicing of traits that are not present in any form of the original organism. (Look up the herbicide Roundup and Roundup and GMOs.) That's some scary shit. Another aspect of the problem is the strangle hold a particular corporation has on particular seeds and crops. Bio-diversity is extremely important to the future health of our food sources and our environment. If we permit corporations to destroy other varieties of crops for the sake of profit, we're absolutely endangering humanity's future. We're gambling that that one strain will be forever viable. If one there's one thing one learns while reading about biology, there's no such thing as forever. In addition, I'm not comfortable with the idea that genetically altering crops has no long term side effects upon the environment. And there's been very little investigation into the matter. My point is largely made when the author discusses her anxiety regarding lab animals whose DNA has been hacked escaping labs and infecting the entire population of which they are a part. I fail to understand why she doesn't see the similarity between animals/insects and plants regarding their importance as a part of the ecosystem. Hacked DNA in a variety of plant can effect non GMO varieties via cross-pollination. And yes, GMO crops are cross-pollinating with other crop strains. The scariest moment of all was the instant I understood that CRISPR was readily available to anyone and usable by anyone with "a high school level of education." That gave me chills. Because how long will it take for some yahoo to get it into their head that they want to design their own plague? In any case, I'm relieved to discover that a great deal of the scientific community is discussing these issues and things are being done about it--as much as can be.
Ultimately, I highly recommend reading the book. There are some amazing things discussed in it, and I was made to feel a little more hopeful for humanity for a while.
 And since the GOP has turned itself into a big fan of popular white supremacist beliefs such as prosperity gospel and so on...well eugenics is the next logical step. It's what comes in the whole Guilded Age bag, really.
 Before you freak, while doing research on the Georgian Era, I discovered that a specific species of body lice that fed primarily upon humans was super common at that time but was eradicated decades later due to changes in personal hygiene. The species didn't leave any big holes in the ecosystem.
 Monstanto is particularly nasty when it comes to protecting its patents--and in my opinion patents on lifeforms should never have been allowed to begin with. In any case, they've driven the market into such a state that we're dangerously close to mono culturing a major food staple. And if you don't understand why that might be a problem, think back to the potato famine.
 Granted, that was more about politics than the blight affecting one crop. But what applies here is the fact that the food source was limited to one crop.
is a Science Fiction and Fantasy author living in Texas.